Friday, October 9, 2009

On Being Nobel

A special guest post by Derek H. Frey:

Why am I having a big sad today? Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize! I think he deserves it too! And yet… and yet… the reactions… Oh, man, the reactions!

The majority of the reactions feel to me, like this is all a big, major, misunderstanding. And, given the context, a misunderstanding that is very telling of the state we are in – a state that most of us know is not a good one, a state most of us know is of our own doing; yet a state most of us think they have NO part in changing. That would be Obama’s job. And his alone.

By and large, the subtext of the vast majority of reactions today appears to be: you (Obama) deliver, while we (all of us) wait and see (and, if we are members of the GOP or Iran, or N.Korea, or the banks, or credit-card-users, or junk-food-lovers, we will in fact do everything so you get nowhere near achieving anything – while, of course, we continue to wonder aloud why it is you haven’t achieved anything fully).

Never mind that Obama is dragging and pushing everything and everyone in just that direction; he is sweet-talking Iran and North Korea, and hell, anyone who has a part to play in solving the many problems ALL of us need solving.

The Nobel Peace Committee recognized what he is trying to do; we (or at least the majority of us), who will benefit greatly if he were to achieve it, appear not to.

As I see it – and as I understand the purpose of the Nobel Peace Prize – it is like the Nobel Committee said: here’s the ideal, if you (all of us) follow it; he is the guy (Obama) heading in the direction of peace and brotherhood and what-have-you. If you (all of us) follow his example, only then peace can be achieved: only if the majority wants it.

The majority of reactions, in my view, were cynical, a lot of them mean-spirited, or doubting, all sorts of things… most of them were not what this prize really is all about: inspirational.

As much as the Nobel Peace prize is a symbol – as it stands for an ideal, for a direction, for a state of mind – the reactions themselves are symbols as well. They also stand for something. And what they stand for, the way I perceive it, is a bit frightening. It certainly is sad.


  1. Hi I'm a junk food lover :o) As I stated in David's post, I'm not too sure how I feel about Obama getting the Nobel Peace Prize. I understand the man has idealisms, that if can be brought through, can make for some wonderful things in the world. I also know you and many other people who have idealisms that I agree with more. I also think people have a right to thier opinion, after all, this is the foundation of a free society. One cannot acheieve peace by forcing one way of thought on everyone. So call me names, hate me, but if the prize is awarded on idealisms, then where is the prize for all of you who think the same???

  2. I am not sure, idealism plays a big part here. Well, in a way it does, I suppose. In that respect why Mr. Nobel asked for this particular prize to be handed out - and to whom and for what reason. The idealism in this particluar case - the Nobel Peace Prize - would be the believe that peace is worth working for.

    As much as the prize itself is a symbol - as I said - so is the person who receives it. What the committee wanted - and it said so very clearly - is to recognize that Obama needs support, that he is on the right track, that he really, seriously works to achieve understanding and peace, no matter how difficult the task. In fact, especially because this task is so difficult, support is needed and valid and due.

    The World is more than just the USA, much more. And most people on this planet believe that Obama is the right man in these trying times; more people than believed that of any one person ever before.

    By the way, thank God for us to be able to argue and discuss - in a civil manner. And, yes, thank God for junk food, too. Cause... I also like it (from time to time).

  3. Idealism is the thing of teenagers and brand new college grads. Things aren't black and white. Peace can't be achieved through following word for word an ideology, or through eloquent speeches.

    We are all in this together, yes, to a certain extent. We the people are responsible for choosing the people that make the decisions that lead to war and peace. The problem is, the game is rigged. The powers that be own every card in the deck.

    Obama is the King of Hearts. Lets hope he doesn't turn into yet another joker.


  4. I was going to say despite all the reasons not to give him the prize how much can it hurt to have the word PEACE written large alongside OBAMA...then read David's 'give peace a chance ' before writing, pleased I did as he said it all....long live the NAD

  5. Occasionally the Nobel Prize committees get it wrong. eg. The Economics Prize to Milton Freidmen for his (now discredited) theory or the “invisible hand”-slash-market non-regulation.
    That’s not to say it’s a mistake to give the Peace Prize to Obama. I think most people don’t think he has a track-record yet.
    On this occasion I hope the committee for the Peace Prize has got it right.

  6. This was the Nobel Committee jumping on the Obama bandwagon. Obama is hugely popular globally, if the Nobel Committee is right, and I hope they are, if by embracing Obama as a beacon of hope and peace, it emboldens the quest for peace, then great, good pick... if not, (boo reality) it seems that the committee made the safe choice. There I am done bashing the Prez about peace... gay rights, well thats a whole different matter.